SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NXT ON USA
APRIL 26, 2022, 8PM EST
LIVE IN ORLANDO, FLA., AT CAPITOL WRESTLING CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Vic Joseph & Wade Barrett
Join the “PWT Talks NXT” Dailycast with me, Nate Lindberg and Bruce Hazelwood to break down the episode:
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-Angle on Nikkita Lyons with some shameless camerawork. Thankfully, she wasn’t wearing the gear she posted on Twitter today.
(1) NIKKITA LYONS vs. LASH LEGEND
Brawling before the bell, and we’re underway. “Nikkita” chant, with some responding “sucks.” Messy ground and pound by Lyons, and Legend dumped her to the floor to boos. Lyons reached the apron, and then just stood there waiting for Legend to run the ropes and bump her to the floor. Legend followed Lyons out and tossed her into the steps.
Action went back inside and Legend did some messy ground and pound, and covered for an immediate kickout. Lyons rolled up Legend and I think Legend yelled “oh sh*t,” and there was a far-too-late moment of silence afterward. Legend slammed Lyons for two. Chinlock by Legend. Lyons tossed Legend to get back into it, then caught a boot and went at Legend with kicks and a knee, then a suplex. Rough German suplex by Lyons. To a corner and both threw rights. Lyons mounted Legend, who then walked her to the center of the ring, but Lyons hit a rana. Lyons hit her finisher to win.
Natalya immediately jumped Lyons, and she and Legend double-teamed. Cora Jade made the same for Lyons, then had a faceoff with Natalya. Jade swung and missed with her board. Nattie tried a sharpshooter, but Lyons laid her out and Natalya bailed to the ramp with Legend.
WINNER: Lyons at about 5:15.
(Wells’s Analysis: This match was pretty short for an opener, but still not short enough to hide the extreme limitations of both wrestlers, particularly Lyons. The German suplex needs a lot of work and everything is still so clunky. I continue not to blame her, but those who put her on TV before she was so easily exposed like this)
-Tony D’Angelo said he was supposed to face Xyon Quinn, but he had a hangnail or something. He said instead, he has Von Wagner tonight. He said Wagner will sleep with the fishes. [c]
-Backlash hype featured Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins.
-Backstage, Roderick Strong tried to hype up Diamond Mine. He said this group was too good to crumble like his last faction did. Brutus said they weren’t pinned in their championship match. Roddy said if you have to beat four teams, you do it. He said he set up a tag team match for them next week. He then introduced the Viking Raiders, who walked into frame and snarled. Julius said they’d see them next week. Malcolm Bivens seethed at Roddy.
(2) TONY D’ANGELO vs. VON WAGNER (w/Mr. Stone)
Robert Stone seems to officially be rebranded “Mr. Stone.” Tony got a lukewarm reaction, likely hampered by his ill-advised temporary heel turn just to promote WarGames last year. Wagner powered D to a corner. Reset. Palm strike by D got Wagner’s attention. D tried a German suplex, which was blocked. D looked at his hands, considering his next move. Wagner slammed D to boos. D’Angelo tried a single-leg takedown, but Wagner fought it off twice and hit some corner blocks. Knife-edge chop by Wagner. D fought back with some forearms, but Wagner shut down the flurry with a knee.
Rope run, and Wagner blocked another suplex and wrapped up D in the ropes and clubbed him to boos. D’Angelow tripped Wagner into the ropes, then dumped him. Wagner entered and got dumped on the other side. Wagner yanked D out and blocked him into the apron, then backdropped him on it as the match went to split-screen. [c]
D’Angelo got back into it with some back elbows, but he got hit with a wickedly ugly spinebuster just after. Fireman’s carry, but D wriggled free and tossed Wagner. Belly-to-belly by D’Angelo and both guys sold for a moment. Forearm exchange. The “loudest fan” contest was in full swing as the crowd relentlessly had a dueling chant despite the less-than-thrilling action. Lariat by Wagner shut down another D’Angelo flurry. D wriggled out of Wagner’s finisher, and Wagner dumped D’Angelo. Legado showed up to try to interfere, but D’s Wiseguys showed up and ran them off. Elsewhere, Santos Escobar clubbed D’Angelo on the outside. D’Angelo just beat the ten count only to get hit with Wagner’s finisher. In a bit of childish commentary, Vic insulted Kyle O’Reilly by loudly proclaiming this the biggest win of Wagner’s career. Note: the Wiseguys are Troy Donovan and Channing Lauren (no idea if they’ll use these names).
WINNER: Von Wagner at 10:44.
(Wells’s Analysis: Another big clunker of a match. Neither guy is progressing particularly rapidly, though on the upside, the acts are starting to be tweaked in more interesting directions)
-Back in the kitchen area, Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta congratulated Roxanne Perez, the former Rok-C, on her win last week. Toxic Attraction showed up and Mandy Rose said anyone could get a lucky win. The two sides jawed for a bit. Roxanne will need some seasoning on the mic. Perez was absolutely dwarfed by Hartwell and Pirotta. [c]
-Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen and Fallon Henley fired up before their match. Sofia Cromwell walked by and Jensen was completely distracted. Briggs and Henley tried to get him to focus.
-Nathan Frazer was introduced for his debut. Up near the ring, Grayson Waller laid out his planned, mostly-unseen opponent and took the mic. He said nobody cared about Frazer’s debut. He then turned his attention to Chase U, which was represented by a bunch of people this week, in the audience. He cut on them as well. Frazer hit the ring and laid out Waller quickly, dropkicked him to the outside and hit a tope to cheers. Andre Chase said that what we have right now is a teachable moment.
-Ariana Grace hype segment. She’ll be in the Women’s Breakout Tournament. She was positioned as a plucky babyface. [c]
-McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Tiffany Stratton, who complained that Sarray is a cheater and she pulled her hair three times in their match last week. Grayson Waller showed up and he and Stratton started chatting about people and accents that they hate. Mitchell said Waller has an accent too. Oh dear.
(3) KAYDEN CARTER & KATANA CHANCE vs. YULISA LEON & VALENTINA FEROZ
Action was fast and furious to open. Carter hit Feroz with a tope, then tagged. Chance hit a senton on Feroz, then soaked up some “Katana” chants. Chance kept up the onslaught and made the tag. Carter worked an abdominal stretch on the mat and rolled Feroz up for two. Feroz threw some forearms but couldn’t tag. Carter dragged her over for the tag and a Chance Swanton and cover for two. Chance worked an abdominal stretch, and Feroz fought her way out and made the tag to Leon, who dominated both babyfaces and slammed Carter for two.
Leon slammed Feroz onto Carter, and Chance broke it up. Carter went for the tag, but Chance wasn’t on the apron and Vic wondered why. Feroz hit a rana and tagged, and Leon missed a springboard moonsault. Feroz made the tag, and Chance finally hit the apron and tagged in for the team finisher.
WINNERS: Carter & Chance at 6:01.
(Wells’s Analysis: Very strangely worked, as Feroz played heel in peril until finally making the hot tag, and then the faces broke up the flurry and the pin attempt. Everything was competent, but they didn’t work the way you’d think)
-Backstage, someone had attacked Brooks Jensen. Josh Briggs yelled “They did this! They leave us no choice!” [c]
-Kay Lee Ray segment. She said it’s been eight months. But to understand her now, you have to understand her past. She said fire represents life, so apparently she’s friends with Jeff Probst. She said she IS Alba Fyre.
(4) JOSH BRIGGS & FALLON HENLEY vs. JOAQUIN WILDE & CRUZ DEL TORO & ELEKTRA LOPEZ
I wish they’d spread out these name changes a little more. It’s apparently a handicap match thanks to Henley being jumped before the match. The very pro-Legado crowd booed when Briggs jumped Legado. Mr. Stone got on the mic and said Jensen got himself in trouble with his wandering eyes, essentially spelling out that it was Von Wagner that jumped Jensen. In the ring, the Legado males made tags and dominated Briggs. Wilde cut the ring in half and set up a figure four and made the tag, but Briggs fought over for the tag to Henley as Lopez also tagged in. The two went at each other furiously, with too much light showing on most of the strikes. Wilde tagged in, forcing Briggs to do the same. Briggs hit a spinebuster for two, which was broken up. Lopez got into it and Henley hit an iffy Thesz press and the two women fought their way outside. Briggs was left against the men, who hit their finisher before long.
WINNERS: Legado del Fantasma at 4:45.
(Wells’s Analysis: Vic explained that it was Von Wagner who attacked Jensen, just in case anyone was too thick to understand. Kind of messy action here)
-McKenzie Mitchell talked to Natalya and Lash Legend. Natalya said it was fitting that next week is Spring Breakin’, because she’s going to break Cora Jade’s legs. Legend said she’s teaming with a legend next week. They promoted their tag match with Cora Jade and Nikkita Lyons. [c]
-Kiana James is “bringing sophistication” into the Breakout tournament. She’s calculated her odds for success. She took off her glasses and did a glamourous hair flip (in slow motion). Hopefully this character finds a second dimension eventually, because yikes. James is the former Kayla Inlay.
(5) SOLO SIKOA vs. TRICK WILLIAMS
Williams caught Sikoa early and ran him shoulder-first into the corner. Cameron Grimes sat in on commentary. He tried to cheekily allude to his “to the moon” catchphrase, but the announcers forced him to say it. Sikoa slammed Williams and wrenched his arm, then yanked. Again. Big chop by Sikoa, who continued to work the arm. Rope run and Williams hit a couple of kicks to lay out Sikoa. Stomps by Williams. Body slam by Williams. Dropkick by Williams, and Carmelo Hayes flexed on the outside. Neckbreaker by Williams, who covered for two. Rope run and Williams kicked Sikoa in the face, but Sikoa no-sold and fired up. Backdrop by Sikoa.
SIkoa blocked shots and threw his own, then laid out Williams with an uppercut and threw haymakers. Corner splash by Sikoa, then another in the opposite corner. Samoan drop. Frog splash finished. Vic said if that happens next week, Sikoa could be the new North American Champion.
WINNER: Solo Sikoa at 5:08.
After the match, Sikoa laid out both Grimes and Hayes in the ring ahead of their triple threat next week.
(Wells’s Analysis: Acceptable action as Williams continues to get work. I get that he needs to work on his offense for his long-term act, but he may have gotten a bit too much offense here)
-Malik Blade and Edris Enofe talked in a room backstage. Enofe tried to work on Blade’s confidence. Blade hopped up out of his chair and fired up to the joy of Enofe. A corner graphic promoted their match with the Viking Raiders, up next. [c]
-All four members of Legado del Fantasma stood together. Santos Escobar said Tony D’Angelo was a lowlife and a liar, and nobody messes with Legado. An ojo for an ojo (eye for an eye).
(6) THE VIKING RAIDERS (Erik & Ivar) vs. EDRIS ENOFE & MALIK BLADE
The crowd, pretty muted throughout this middling-at-best episode, woke up a little for the Raiders. Blade got laid out by Ivar, and both made tags. Enofe got some quick strikes in on Erik, then tagged. Blade wrenched Erik’s arm and tagged, and Enofe flourished his way right into a huge forearm that laid him out. Tag to Ivar, and the two clubbed Enofe to the mat. Ivar tossed Enofe to a corner and threw repeated back elbows. Tag to Erik, who hit a big knee and then rolled up Enofe for two. Erik missed knees in the corner and Ivar tagged in. Blade tagged in and flew in with an ax-handle, then hit a clothesline on the ropes. He made the tag, and the two splashed Ivar and Enofe covered for two. Another tag to Blade, but Ivar laid out both guys in succession. Erik tagged in, then tagged back so they could hit their finisher on Blade. The Raiders shook hands with Enofe and Blade afterward.
The Creeds hit the ramp and the two teams jawed from afar.
WINNERS: The Viking Raiders at 4:44.
(Wells’s Analysis: A pretty decent monster vs. underdog match here. I’m still seeing big things for Enofe down the road. Viking Raiders-Creeds will be a heck of a test)
-Wes Lee segment. He said having championships taken from you is much different from losing them. He said he could bitch about how life isn’t fair, or he could make it on his own. Very strong segment as Lee starts at square one after Nash Carter’s firing. [c]
-Charlotte Flair-Ronda Rousey hype.
-Mitchell interviewed Tony D’Angelo, who introduced Troy “Two Dimes” Donovan, who half-heartedly mimicked money in his fingers, and Channing Lorenzo – better known on the streets as “Stacks.” I hope he didn’t see what happens to Stacks on Goodfellas.
(7) ROXANNE PEREZ vs. MANDY ROSE (w/Jacy Jayne & Gigi Dolin)
Rose took Perez to a corner, yanked her off and shoved her to a corner. Perez got in Rose’s face and Rose told the ref to back her up. Rose wrenched and yanked Perez’s arm. Perez rolled up Rose for one, which Vic called a “near fall.” Perez rolled up Rose, this time for an actual near-fall. A third one got a one count and Vic called it a near-fall again. Come on, man. Rose wagged her finger in Perez’s face and Perez bit off one of her false nails. Rose dumped Perez, then followed, and Perez slammed Rose’s digits against the steps and the match went to split-screen. [c]
Perez ran the ropes and Rose landed a backdrop, then covered for two. Rose whipped Perez to a corner, then stretched her back over her knee. Perez broke it with a knee to the skull. Perez monkey flipped Roxy’s neck onto the top rope, then rolled her up for two. On the outside, Gigi feigned pity for Perez. The fans, for at least the third time, were in a relentless dueling chant. Whatever they’re doing to promote those, they should stop, as they remove organic responses to spots.
Perez hit a corner elbow, then a Russian leg sweep and a landing twisting moonsault for two. Perez rolled up Rose for two, then hit a cross-body for two. Rose hit a jumping knee to finish out of relative nowhere.
Wendy Choo ran in and tried to use her super-soakers on TA again. They ran up the ramp and said “not tonight!” Choo pressed a button and a net fell on TA, perfectly trapping them. Wow, there was little margin for error and they nailed it. Choo and Perez pelted TA with silly string.
WINNER: Mandy Rose at 9:58.
(Wells’s Analysis: Rose has had some pretty bad matches of late, but this one came together fairly nicely as Perez was a believable underdog and could’ve reasonably enough gone over in this non-title setting.)
-Sloane Jacobs segment. She’s also in the breakout tournament. She said she’s tough because she grew up fighting with her sisters. Not sure how she is in the ring, but her body type is going to turn heads, for starters. [c]
-Spring Breakin’ rundown.
-Joe Gacy hit the ring and druids surrounded it. He said they’ve made great strides but the mission isn’t quite accomplished, and not everyone buys into his way of life. He said it’s time to separate from the people who want to live in the past. Commit to his vision. Do it willingly. He said after Spring Breakin’, there will be no choice. He said Bron Breakker hasn’t told them about his injury and he knows it’s because Bron isn’t cleared to defend the NXT Championship. He was cut off by Rick Steiner, who entered to boring generic music. What, no Theme from Michigan?
Rick said Gacy’s got it wrong – his son IS cleared to compete, and he’ll defend his title at Spring Breakin’. Gacy said Rick picked the ring time to come back…or maybe the worst…possible…time. The druids closed in, and Bron’s music played, and he hit the ramp and started laying out druids everywhere. Gacy shoved one in front of him to take the fall, then laid out Bron when he had an opening. He motioned to the ramp, where a lineup of druids handed the NXT Championship from druid to druid until it got to him. He posed with the belt above Breakker as the show went off the air.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Kind of a rough night in a lot of ways, heading into a special episode that pops a little less than most and largely seems like a normal episode of NXT. This company has really committed hard to a lot of acts that aren’t ready for the size of their spotlight yet, and there’s a lot to cringe at throughout the night these days. There are still some pretty strong episodes, but they seem like a real treat now. Check out PWT Talks NXT with me and Bruce Hazelwood in the next ten minutes. Cheers.